Kamaru Usman put on a flawless performance at UFC 235, claiming the UFC welterweight championship after a one-sided decision over Tyron Woodley, and appears to have his goal set on ending another long winning streak.
Woodley was unbeaten for seven bouts before facing Usman, and one-time UFC interim champion Colby Covington is likely next after defeating six opponents in a row.
UFC president Dana White has made it clear after UFC 235 that Usman will put his title on the line versus Covington next, and Usman’s coach Jorge Santiago explains why the new 170-pound king wants to have “Chaos” as his first title defense.
”If Kamaru had to fight Tyron Woodley again, (Woodley) would deserve that, but I think the next in line now is Colby,” Santiago told MMA Fighting. “(Covington) tried to gain some attention and you like him or not, he’s got it. He’s no Conor McGregor, but he’s reading his book on how to get attention.
”Kamaru wants this fight. He really wants to shut this guy up because he talks a lot. He said, ‘he’s someone I want to fight and punish.’”
Usman entered UFC 235 with a few small injuries, including an injured foot that requires some attention. According to Santiago, his team is targeting a June return against Covington.
Asked if “Chaos” might be an easier match-up for Usman compared to Woodley, Santiago said “I think so”.
”I think Colby is an average fighter, does a bit of everything, just like Kamaru, but Kamaru does it on a higher level,” Santiago said. “I don’t believe this fight goes five rounds. I think it ends before five rounds.”
Usman is riding an impressive winning streak with dominant performances over the likes of Woodley, Demian Maia and Rafael dos Anjos, but hasn’t finished an opponent since his first-round knockout win over Sergio Moraes in Sept. 2017.
Santiago admits he wasn’t expecting a stoppage victory over a “really tough” Woodley at UFC 235, but “expected the fight to be closer.”
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I’m more than humbled and prepared to take on another challenge. Last night my Sensei @jorgesantiagojj pushed the bar even higher by given me my BJJ black belt. I’m beyond excited and can’t wait to be recovered and back on the mats #nigeriannightmare #champion #bjj #blackbelt #whowannagetchoked
”I didn’t think he would dominate that much,” Santiago said. “That was the strategy we set, to not let him breathe, the way (Rory) MacDonald fought him. The strategy we set was kind of made around that fight. Taking him down was the goal, and even him didn’t expect to be that successful in all rounds. He went in there and dominated. He did the best he could to finish the fight, but Tyron is really tough.”
”I think he broke him mentally,” he continued. “That was the goal, make him realize he didn’t have many resources, and he ended up convincing Tyron himself of that. Kamaru’s feints and combinations were working perfectly. It really was his night.”
The difference for his next fight is that Usman will enter the cage as a jiu-jitsu black belt. A week after his win over Woodley, “The Nigerian Nightmare” was promoted by Santiago at the Xcell Jiu Jitsu Academy in Florida.
”I’ve been following his evolution,” said Santiago, who met Usman when he was a blue belt in 2012. “I became his training partner in 2012, and then became his coach and his jiu-jitsu teacher. I’ve always said, ‘you’ll only earn the black belt when you train in the gi, otherwise you’ll die a brown belt,’ and he did his part. He trained a lot on the gi for this fight.”